2015 Library Challenge!

My friend Sheila over at Book Journey is hosting a challenge that is near and dear to my heart: the 2015 Library Challenge to encourage people to get to know their library better.

If you know me, you know I’ve been a HUGE library fan for pretty much my whole life (ever since that auspicious day when I was five and able to get my very own library card). In fact, a quick browse of google located a picture of the historic Goodman Library building in Napa (now a historical society and also recently damaged in the earthquake last August). How I remember climbing those steps in anticipation of what lay within its walls!

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Actually, not to digress, but when I went to find this picture of the old library (built 1901) I came across this picture and it brought me right back to being a little kindergartener and checking out books there in the early 1970’s:

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Anyways — Sheila is encouraging folks to use their library and get to know their library through this challenge. I am a well known face around our small town library, and we are proud of the fact that our family name is one of many etched into the front window as donors for the rebuilding campaign. I use the library for books, DVD’s, books on tape, and to find out what’s new and happening. My kids love the library and use it regularly, too (LEGO club anyone?). We are members of the “friends of the library”. We love the book sales (and donate to them, too). We are what you call “regulars”. Because of this I am going to say we’ll “Go Pro” and check out 28+ items at the library next year. In the past, before I reviewed books, I easily checked out over 50 books a year, plus movies and CD’s. With all my books to review, along with my kindle addiction, I get less books, but I am still a big user. You tell me – where else can EVERY member of the community go and get something that interests them – and for free? (and one reason we really supported the rebuilding campaign was to make our local library, which was quaint but ancient, handicapped accessible so that it really was for everyone!).

So pop over to bookjourney.net and join me in this challenge. Win prizes! Have fun! Celebrate your local library!

Why here’s my beloved little library now — you can see the addition that was built on to the back while preserving the integrity of the charming “old library” in the front:

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HF Virtual Tour: WHITHER THOU GOEST by Anna Belfrage

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Today I am taking part in the Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour for Anna Belfrage’s WHITHER THOU GOEST, the seventh book in the Graham Saga. This series focuses on time traveller, Alex Graham, as she goes back to the 1600’s to be with her soulmate, husband Matthew, and their trials, tribulations, and adventures.

In this installment, there is no lack of excitement! Alex and Matthew start off with the issue of their pregnant daughter, Sarah, the victim of an earlier gang rape by the deplorable Burley men. Trying to help Sarah cope with her feelings and emotional scars, along with what to do with a new baby, are all-consuming tasks, second only to tracking down what remains of those Burleys, previously thought dead but maybe not…

Then Matthew receives a letter from brother-in-bad-blood Luke, begging him to help with his son who has been taken as a slave to the West Indies. Matthew decides blood is thicker than water and, along with Alex, they head out to the Caribbean to try to locate and help their nephew.

This book is a steady stream of events and excitement, along with a big dose of romance, similar to the Outlander series (which I love) but not as lengthy. I really connected to the character of Alex, who is smart and plucky but not perfect. She loves her husband but also gets jealous. She is attractive but not ridiculously so – in fact I think her confidence and integrity are her most appealing characteristics. I have not read the earlier books and while this one can certainly stand on its own, having the earlier books would have made my understanding of characters a tad easier as I would have the backstory as it happened. I enjoyed Belfrage’s writing which has an easy flow to it. I think I will go back and read A RIP IN THE VEIL which is the first novel in this series.

Thank you for letting me take part in this tour and for my review copy!

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YA Review: ENLIGHTENED by A.L. Waddington (The E.V.E. Series – Book 2)

I’m happy today to be part of the blog tour through Booktrope for ENLIGHTENED, Book 2 of the E.V.E. series, written by A.L. Waddington.

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The E.V.E. series is a YA series about a teenager who exists in parallel dimensions. Jocelyn Timmons is a fairly typical senior in high school when she meets new neighbor and fellow senior Jackson. His presence throws her into a sense of vertigo and illness. Soon she realizes that she and Jackson knew each other in the 1800’s as well as now.  See my review of the first book, ESSENCE, here:

https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/quick-ya-review-essence-by-a-l-waddington-book-one-of-the-e-v-e-series/

In Book 2, Jocelyn is still struggling with completely understanding her life in the past (or parallel, if you will). She and Jackson express their love for each other and decide to marry after her high school graduation. Not surprisingly, this is met with a lot of consternation and concern from her parents, especially her mom and brother, and her friends. Jocelyn insists that she will continue on to college and just do it as a married woman. Much of the book is focused on the upset and angst she feels over this decision, her battle with her family, and then her upset with Jackson. A photo album from the past, found in her uncle’s things, also adds to her knowledge of the past.

I enjoy reading this series and I know I would have liked it when I was in high school. That said, this book moved a bit slowly for me. Poor Jocelyn pretty much was miserable in both her lives. In her current 2009 life she was a lot more aware of her life in the past, which helped her to understand and not be quite so upset. I have to say, too, that I can understand her family’s distress over her announcing her marriage to a boy she’s hardly known for long. It wasn’t all that long ago that getting married at 18 or 19 was commonplace; however, by today’s standards, it is much more rare. In any case, Jocelyn struggles with her desires and her knowledge of her time travel (which her family doesn’t know about). I am reading the next installment now so that I can find out how Jocelyn ends up (and where!).

Thanks, Booktrope, for making me a stop on your blog tour and for my copy!

Review: ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr

This WWII historical novel came highly recommended by my dear friend, Amy of Mom Advice. She featured it on her blog at http://www.momadvice.com. I purchased it for my kindle, but honestly, I forgot all about it! When I saw it and started reading it, what a delight! This was a wonderful story, beautifully written. It is definitely one of my favorite reads of 2014.

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE starts with young Marie Laure, a blind girl living with her father in Paris. Her father is the master of locks at the Museum of Natural History, and she arrives at work with him each day. Marie Laure has an active imagination and her mind is keen. She loves to learn about the different items in the museum, especially the snails and sea life. When the Nazi’s take over Paris, Marie Laure and her father flee Paris to the small island village of Saint Malo, where they have a relative. He is elderly and suffers from what we would call PTSD, from the First World War, leaving him frightened and unable to leave the house or socialize. Marie Laure builds a tentative relationship with him and also with his loving housekeeper. Together they use her uncle’s secret wireless to work against the Nazis. But Marie Laure does not realize that her father is also hiding a secret – one that could put their lives in jeopardy.

At the same time, young Werner and his sister Jutta are growing up as orphans in Germany. Werner is fascinated by radios and wireless and he earns a reputation as a young expert. He and Jutta love to listen to stories over the radio that come from France at night. Soon he is drafted, so to speak, by the Reich to serve in the military. As the Nazis move to take over the island of Saint Malo, Werner is tasked with finding any radios or wireless devices that could be helping the British and French forces. Werner and Marie Laure’s world are set on a collision course.

I loved this book! What a beautifully written story with such a memorable and unique young heroine. I love WWII stories, but this one really touched me. I would recommend it for YA readers, too, but there is a scene of violence near the end that some may find disturbing (I did and I’m far from young!). I have to add, too, that I loved the use of Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as part of this story/part allegory.

Highly recommended!

Here’s Doerr talking about how he came to write it, via You Tube:

Quick Review: THE HANDSOME MAN’S DELUXE CAFE by Alexander McCall Smith (No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency)

If you read me, you know I love the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith. I have read them all. I purchased the latest, number 15 in the series, recently for my husband for his birthday (he’s a fan, too).

Life continues to go on for the characters in this charming series set in Bostwana. The agency has a new case – a woman with amnesia – and even a new “detective”, the hapless “apprentice mechanic” Charlie. Meanwhile, Grace has decided to open a restaurant and is dealing with staffing, menus, and a reviewer who is an old nemesis.

Always a delight, this series brings new events as these characters continue to grow and develop. I just love these books!

You can see this book at the library, at your fave bookstore, or on Amazon where I got mine.

November in Review…

November was a bit of a tricky month for me, as a lot of what I was reading was for future posts.

I started off the month with a review of WE ARE NOT OURSELVES by Matthew Thomas. That’s a read that has stayed with me!

I published my Ho-Ho-Ho Holiday Readathon Goals. I had never done a readathon as I always figure I don’t have enough time. I aimed for three holiday books.

Next I was part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour for the YA/Children’s book A LITTLE WICKED by Janet Macreery. This is a great little read!

On Nov. 4 I review Kara Taylor’s DEADLY LITTLE SINS, the last book in the “Prep School Confidential” series. I love that fun YA series!

I listened to the audiobook THE DRESSMAKER  by Kate Alcott in the car.

Post readathon, on Nov. 12, I posted a review of the three holiday books I read. (I can’t say enough how fun that readathon was — the Twitter party alone was reason enough to join!).

I threw in a Saturday Snapshot of the sprinkling of snow we had.

Then I had a break where I was reading lots of stuff for December and January!

On November 23 I took part in the Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour of SELDOM COME BY by Sherryl Caulfield, a beautiful book – book one in a series.

Then on Nov. 28 I posted my FAVE READS of 2014 post (always popular).

I also came across (that same day) a whole listing of free holiday books for your kindle and posted a link.

And I ended up the month with a Saturday Snapshot of the real snow we got for Thanksgiving! Now it is even snowing on my blog. 🙂

Hope you had a great November, too!!